Dissecting Most Crucial Matchups in Cowboys' Week 6 Contest with the Redskins

Peter MatarazzoContributor IOctober 11, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 06:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys' best remedy for getting over the loss last weekend to the Denver Broncos would be to beat the Redskins on Sunday night. It's that simple, but no simple task. In fact, with Washington coming off a bye, and the Cowboys coming off a demoralizing loss, you could say that the enemy has an edge.

Or do they?

The questions surrounding RGIII's health will still linger for a little while longer, but his 2013 stats suggest he is only getting healthier and stronger. Currently, Griffin is averaging 300.5 yards per game, he's thrown for 1,202 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Redskins overall are 1-3 and looking to make a bold move in an NFC East that is there for the taking. The Cowboys are looking to get back to .500 and also looking to continue to pour on the points from their offensive surge against Denver.

The Dallas offense at this point in the season could just be there best defense. Not everybody is Peyton Manning, but RGIII represents danger in a variety of ways, and that was on display last Thanksgiving Day. Care to take a stroll down memory lane? I'd rather not vomit, so let's not.

Both teams are managing injuries on both sides of the ball, so at this point in the season with both teams looking to get out of their respective holes, this figures to be a typical NFC East battle of two teams with a storied rivalry.

Expect a 15 round fight, lots of action, some drama and high ratings. It's all the things that make football exciting, but so do the matchups that will have huge and crucial implications. Let's see what those look like.

Tony Romo vs. Redskins Defense

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 19: Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Redskins pressures quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of a preseason game at FedExField on August 19, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Ph
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Romo, fresh off his 506-yard, five touchdown performance against Denver, might be licking his chops a bit in getting his chance at a Washington Redskins defense playing pretty poorly against the pass. That defense has given up over an average of 320 yards per game and at least two touchdowns.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will be ready for what he saw on tape of the Denver game, but whether his plan plays out or not is another issue. If Romo gets ample time and if the Cowboys passing game plays with fluency and precision, they will be tough to stop.

An encore performance of 500 yards is hard to replicate, but the Cowboys must utilize what appears to be a lethal strength of this team right now. Protecting Romo, providing a clean pocket with throwing lanes will be the key for Dallas.

Collapsing that pocket and bringing pressure between the guard and center will be the key for Washington.

Dez Bryant vs. DeAngelo Hall

Bryant is a key matchup to dissect every week, not because it's easy to identify due to his prowess, but because he is a tone-setter for this entire team. He will be double teamed for the rest of his career, but he still has Velcro hands and he still gets chances to make game-changing plays regardless of coverage.

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 06:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates his pass reception touchdown against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

His chemistry with Romo is outstanding right now and so is the confidence level between these two players. Having a target like Bryant, and in this game particularly, will be the key to unlocking the same success the Cowboys had against Denver.

Hall will look to be physical with Bryant, and Bryant will be all business in this game. Bryant must protect the ball after the catch and he must not, at any cost, get into a jawing match with Hall. A single lapse in focus could result in an interception.

This will be the biggest key to the game. Superstars need to play big in big games. It doesn't get any bigger than this.

Alfred Morris vs. Cowboys' Defensive Front

Morris has been bothered by injury, but barring any major setback, he will play in this game. Morris demolished the Cowboys defense last season to the tune of 313 yards and four touchdowns in two games. 

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Alfred Morris #46 of the Washington Redskins carries the ball against the Oakland Raiders during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum on September 29, 2013 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Cowboys are dealing with the health of DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and not a lot of depth. This would be a game where having Jay Ratliff could benefit this line, but that won't happen. The Cowboys need to go with what they have, and limiting first and second down runs will be crucial. 

Having RGIII in second and third and short situations could be doom for this defense. It will allow him to wear out Dallas, create a lot of play action off of the zone read and create opportunities to use his agility and in space.

If games are won up front, this is the game to win.

Morris Claiborne vs. Pierre Garcon

You could see this coming from a mile away, but it needs to be addressed. Why wouldn't Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle not want to exploit this matchup? Garcon has speed that kills and the Cowboys have a weak link on their defense capable of giving up the big play.

Claiborne has to be ready to battle from snap to whistle in this game and Washington will have their foot on the throttle. How well Claiborne plays in this game will determine the number of looks Monte Kiffin could afford to employ on Sunday night.

Cowboys Defense vs. Zone Read

Have the Cowboys learned anything from last year's two game performance against Washington's offense? We will find out, but one thing is for certain, and that is the Cowboys need to at least limit the effectiveness of of the zone read. 

Available personnel defensively and scheme will play a factor, but this is a game the Cowboys need to want more than Washington. It will be a game of grit and determination.



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